Your Emotional Checkup

You go for an annual physical and you know what to expect. Your blood pressure, weight, heart rate and various lab tests will give an overview of your health status as well as significant changes. You’re taking care of your body. Now what about the rest of you?

Jeffrey Rossman, PhD, director of life management at Canyon Ranch Lenox, says that a periodic emotional checkup is important, too. “Your emotional state affects the quality of life and your health,” he says. “What makes this different from its physical counterpart is that you can evaluate how you feel on your own.”

Checking in on you

Emotional checkups give you valuable insights during times of great change or stress, as well as when things are going smoothly. You can see any areas of your life that might need attention.

“Your checkup may reveal that you’re in a good place emotionally,” Rossman says. “Being reminded that you’re satisfied with most or all aspects of your life increases your awareness that you’re, in fact, happy and content—feelings we often take for granted.”

The power of insight

Just as a good physical report may encourage you to continue exercising and eating well, validation of emotional wellness is strong reinforcement. What you’re doing to feel fulfilled is working—so keep it up.

On the flipside, identifying an imbalance in your emotional health can help, too—though figuring out the cause of it can be more difficult. “You may need to reflect and dig deep to understand how you’re doing and what might be bothering you,” says Rossman.

Maybe you feel like current circumstances are overwhelming, or your life is more than you can handle. You might see you’re going through the motions but don’t feel particularly satisfied, or that you’re sad lately and not sure why. “Taking the time to identify these feelings will help you get back in touch with yourself,” Rossman says. “With this awareness, you might figure out how to address a challenging situation or make peace with a situation you can’t change.”

There are several ways to check in with your emotions, Rossman explains, including conversations with friends, family, a trusted advisor or self-reflection. Think about how you feel when you wake up, when you’re doing your daily activities, and when you go to bed. Consider the state of your relationships and how the interactions and conversations you have with those people make you feel. Note what fulfills you spiritually, what makes you smile and laugh, and what makes you upset and worried. Explore all the parts of your life that influence your emotions. Writing about them in a journal is a wonderful way to increase self-awareness and address the important areas of your life.

Life satisfaction scale

Rossman suggests using a visual aid to help clarify your thoughts. Simply rate each of these areas on a scale of 1-10:

– Work
– Family
– Friends
– Home
– Health
– Recreation
– Community
– Spirituality
– Partner
– Finances

Your honest numbers should give you a graphic representation of how you feel.

“You’ll see what you feel good about and where you’re lacking in contentment,” says Rossman. “You may realize where you’ve been putting more time and energy and what you’re neglecting.”

If you notice areas that could use improvement, consider solutions that work with your lifestyle. You may want to explore practices like meditation, spiritual journaling or prayer. Or maybe a daily walk with your partner or phone call to a friend can help fill a void. Pursuing a new hobby or starting a relaxation ritual might work wonders.

“Over time, the benefits of these new practices become ingrained in you, helping you feel emotionally balanced,” says Rossman, “and, we hope, your next checkup reflects that—or shows progress.”

Commit to your checkups

Regular emotional checkups help you see how you’re doing over time. They motivate you to continue healthy practices that nourish your mind, body and spirit.“By doing that, you can build your emotional resilience and better handle tough situations or those times when you don’t feel like yourself,” says Rossman.

Depending on your assessment, there may be times when speaking with your doctor or a psychotherapist can help you get to the root of how you’re feeling and find solutions that work for you—especially if you’re feeling particularly down. “It might be difficult at first to make the call and say, ‘I don’t feel right emotionally,’” Rossman says, “but it’s just as important as if you were to say, ‘I have a medical problem that needs professional attention.’”

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